Sing, Play and Speak With Your Children In Chinese !

Singing is a joyful way of learning and an effective way to teach languages to children of all ages.  Are you ready to try “London Bridge” in Mandarin Chinese with your little one now?
Have fun! – 玩得開心 – Wán de kāi xīn

Special Guest Post from Amanda “Miss Panda” Hsiung-Blodgett

Back in my pre-mommy days I used to teach Chinese children English.  When my own children were born I was determined to teach them my other language – Chinese.  In their early years we sang Chinese nursery songs together and played games while humming and chanting.   I also used English-language children’s songs pre-translated into Chinese.  Then I started to translate more songs and nursery rhymes in Chinese, creating my own versions in order to add the language learning elements I wanted to focus on.  When my daughter entered preschool I brought my Mandarin Chinese program into her classroom, teaching all the four-year-olds together in a group setting.  What were some of the best methods I found to teach young children a foreign language, English or Chinese?  Singing and movement!

We all know that young children have amazing learning abilities.  When they are having fun they learn almost effortlessly.  In my learning sessions we sing and do movements with songs and raps.  We dance and march with the beat.  We also laugh about how silly some of the movements and lyrics are.   There is plenty of song repetition and a lot of action involved.  Repetition is also a key for young learners.  Repeated actions and movements help them to stay focused and lengthen their attention spans.

When I conduct my parent/child classes I always start the program with my “Hello!” and  “Counting!” songs and wrap up the sessions with my “Goodbye!” song.  These class routines serve as cues to let the children know when it is time to start the class and when we are done with today’s language learning fun.  During the 30-minute Chinese immersion sessions we sing and dance, do our “kung fu” moves, and read a story.  I select the songs according to a weekly theme.  For example if we have an animal theme, we might sing the classic “Ugly Little Duckling” and “Two Tigers” songs.  I also have plenty of fun toys on hand.  The children will sing the songs, see my plush animal friends, pat them and give them hugs.  Singing and movement maximize the use of the senses to reinforce the language learning experience.

Below are three action-filled English children’s songs translated into Mandarin Chinese to help get you started.   I have made some changes to the songs so they make sense in Chinese.  They are interactive songs for parent/child playtime at home or in a playgroup setting.

London Bridge – Lún Dūn Tiě Qiáo  (video above)
Movement Tip:  Place your child on your knees and drop/raise your knees gently according to the lyrics.  I replaced “my fair lady” part with “Qīn ài de bǎo bèi” (‘my dear precious one”) to make it relevant and rhythmic in Chinese.  You can replace the last part of the phrase “bǎo bèi” (“precious one”) with your child’s name to personalize the song.

I have added the “tickles” at the end not only to teach that phrase but also to raise the enjoyment level higher (parents and teachers also love to hear the happy laughter of the little ones!)

Lún dūn tiě qiáo dǎo xià lái         London Bridge is falling down,
Dǎo xià lái                     falling down,
Dǎo xià lái                     falling down.
Lún dūn tiě qiáo dǎo xià lái        London Bridge is falling down,
Qīn ài de bǎo bèi                Dear precious one.
Sāo yǎng sāo yǎng sāo yǎng        Tickle, tickle, tickle!
倫敦鐵橋 倒下來, 倒下來, 倒下來
倫敦鐵橋 倒下來, 親愛的寶貝, 搔癢, 搔癢, 搔癢

Ring Around the Rosie – Zhuǎn Quān Quān
Movement Tip:  Hold hands with your child/ren.  Form a circle if you have several kids in the group.  Walk in a circle and sing this song.  When you sing to “Wǒ men dōu dié dǎo “ everyone pretends to fall down on the mat.  I use a play parachute when we sing this song.  The children love to fall into the parachute at the end.

Zhuǎn ya zhuàn quān quān ya        turning and going in circle

Zhuǎn ya zhuàn quān quān ya        turning and going in circle

Zhuǎn ya zhuǎn ya                turning and turning

Wǒ men dōu dié dǎo            we all fall down

轉呀 轉圈圈呀    轉呀 轉圈圈呀    
轉呀 轉呀         我們都跌倒

Ten Little Children – Shí Gè Xiǎo Péng Yǒu
Movement Tip:  Stomp your feet or clap your hands according to the beat.  Point to the subject you are indicating in the song.  I have replaced the “Indians” with “little children.”  I also replace “little children” with “toys (wán jù),” “dolls (yáng wá wa), ” and  “balls (qiú)” according to what we are counting.  At the end, I add the action word “jump (tiào)!” so the children say the word and jump up and down.

Yī gè liǎng gè sān gè xiǎo péng yǒu       one two three little children       

Sì gè wǔ gè liù gè xiǎo péng yǒu              four five six little children

Qī gè bā gè jiǔ gè xiǎo péng yǒu              seven eight nine little chldren

Shí gè xiǎo péng yǒu                      ten little children                                   

Tiào tiào tiào!                            jump jump jump!

跳 跳 跳

About “Miss Panda”
Amanda “Miss Panda” Hsiung-Blodgett is the founder of Miss Panda Chinese and the creator of the “Let’s Learn Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda!” audio CD/MP3 albums for young children.  She currently teaches Chinese in Hawaii, offering Chinese classes for children and their parents.  You can visit her website, Miss Panda Chinese, and her Facebook page for more learning resources and to follow her bilingual adventures with her two children.
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